The city of Nawabs–Hyderabad, has beautifully preserved the bygone era in its monuments and intricate architectural sites. From Char Minar to Golconda Fort, the city has captured the old-world charm and aesthetics in the walls of these historic sites. Of these are some hidden gems in and around Hyderabad which make for great offbeat visits. By Trinetra Paul
A gateway to an integral part of South India, Hyderabad marks the seat of Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, the last of the Asaf Jahi rulers, who ruled over the then affluent city till 1948. Hyderabad owed much of its wealth to the Kollur diamond mines and the Nizam was one of the richest persons in the world.
The iconic Chowmahalla Palace, the gorgeous Falaknuma Palace, Ramoji Film City, Snow World and Salar Jung museum are some of the most well-known landmarks that should be on the list of best tourist attractions in Hyderabad.
Along with these,try not to miss some delectable Hyderabadi biryani, stunning pearls and bangles or street shopping in this beautiful city.
However, if you are an intrepid traveller who wishes to go beyond the typical tourist attractions and regular sightseeing, there are some beautiful hidden gems near Hyderabad that are not much explored. With nature trails, offbeat forts and Buddhist temples, Telangana is one enigmatic state that you must discover.
Take a break from the city tour and check out these hidden gems in and around Hyderabad
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam
One of the largest dam projects in India, the Nagarjuna Sagar dam was built in 1955-67 over River Krishna. It has 26 gates and reaches a staggering height of over 124 metres. The roaring sound that it makes when a huge amount of water is released is an experience that you must witness. An example of India’s modern architectural wonders and engineering feats, the dam can hold 11,742 million cubic litres of water.
Located at about 150 kilometres from Hyderabad, the journey to the Nagarjuna Sagar dam will offer breathtaking views of the rivers and the rolling hills. You can also spend quality time boating along a nearby island in the Nagarjunakonda Valley. There is a beautiful Buddhist monastery and museum at the spot as well.
The place is very well connected and takes a three-hour drive to get there. You can also avail the regular bus services that ply from Hyderabad to Nagarjuna Sagar dam.
A revered temple town near Hyderabad, Srisailam is located at a distance of about 213 km from the main city and is one of the most important heritage sites.
Nestled amidst lush greenery of the Nallamala forests in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, the place is one of the top hidden gems near Hyderabad. The temple town is well known for the Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga and the Ista Kameswari temple.
It also has a few ancient caves of which the Akka Mahadevi Caves reach a depth of almost 24 metres. You have to take the ropeway and a boat ride on the River Krishna to reach the site.
The Srisailam dam is also a sight to behold. Standing at a height of 145m with a length of 512 metres, it offers a stunning view and a jaw dropping backwater.
Srisailam offers wildlife spotting as well. The Srisailam Wildlife Sanctuary lets you catch the big cats in action.
Though train services are there from Hyderabad to Srisailam, the easiest and the most convenient way to reach the spot is to drive down or take a cab which will take about four hours.
Mallela Theertham Waterfalls
This one is for nature lovers and trekkers. The Mallela Theertham Fall is located about 185 kilometres from Hyderabad and about 58 kilometres from Srisailam.
The fall offers a stunning view that will make you want to stay there forever. Enveloped by the Nallamala forest range, the view of the water gushing down the rugged rocks from a height of almost 45 metres is a site to behold.
One has to climb down over 350 steps to the middle of the forest to reach the fall. The calm, serene environment and the fresh crisp air makes the journey absolutely worth it.
Winter months from October to February are the best time to visit the place as the weather is ideal to see the fall in all its splendour.
As soon as you step in the city of Warangal, be sure to be transported centuries back in time. The well reserved ruins of the Warangal fort and remnants of the ancient city are the major historical attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. Built by King Ganapati Deva in the 13th century, the fort has some intricately carved pillars and arches that add to its charm.
Apart from the fort, you must visit the thousand pillar temple which belongs to the 12th century. The temple bears influences from the classic Kakatiya style of architecture and speaks volumes about the country’s rich heritage. It is mainly dedicated to three Gods— Shiva, Surya and Vishnu.
You must also visit the mesmerising Pakhal lake which is located at a short 30 minutes’ drive from Warangal. The 30 square kilometre lake dates back to 1213 AD and is surrounded by green forests and hills.
The most convenient way to reach Warangal is by train which takes about 1 hour 50 mins whereas a drive takes around three hours.
The gorgeous Bhongir Fort is located at a short distance of nearly 50 kilometres from Hyderabad and offers a beautiful view from the top.
Built by Chalukya ruler Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya VI, the fort dates back to the 10th century and stands on a monolithic rock. Spread over 50 acres of area and at a height of around 152 metres, the fort complex has two entries which are in turn covered with huge rocks.
The fort also houses several ponds and a Hanuman temple. Visitors can see a splendid collection or armouries, stables, trap doors and other things of historical interest.
Bhongir town is very well connected by roads and is one of the must-visit hidden gems near Hyderabad city.
Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara
The Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara is a calm and peaceful Buddha temple perched on a hilltop in Mahendra Hills, Secunderabad.
Take a break from the cacophonies of life and visit the place for some much-needed solace and serenity. One of the hidden gems in Hyderabad, the Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara is the epitome of bliss and harmony.
The beautiful statue of Lord Buddha, the sprawling garden area with monks doing their chants, a large open library, the mesmerising views and the overall peaceful aura of the place will instantly take you to Dharamshala.
The Mahabodhi Society, a charitable organisation, was established by Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita in 1956 in Bengaluru. Its aim is to revive the teachings of Lord Buddha, carry out humanitarian works and spread the message of compassion.
The Mahabodhi Society of Hyderabad is the latest affiliate to the main society in Bengaluru and has six resident and 27 trainee monks.
One can easily drive down to the place and soak in the calmness of the environment.
One of Hyderabad’s best kept secrets, the Ananthagiri Hills is a trekker’s paradise. Home to some incredible waterfalls, this hill station is an easy and ideal getaway from the hustle of life.
Located very close to the Godavari River, the hill station offers stunning views of South India. Replete with abundant natural beauty, Ananthagiri has a gorgeous nature’s trail which will take you to the peak. There are about two to three hills with varying altitudes. The highest of these is Koodumuduru (1081 metres).
The area also has some stunning waterfalls. The Koyyuru Falls is the most famous one which drops into the Godavari River from a height of about 30 metres.
Winter is the ideal season to visit the place as the weather becomes pleasant and less humid. While here, you can also visit the Wadakanchery Temple, Gorur Dam, Kalladka Village, Panchalimedu, and many more.
One of the hidden gems near Hyderabad, the place is at a distance of about 81 kilometres from the capital city. Ananthagiri is well connected by roads and one can easily drive down to the place. You can also take a train from Hyderabad to Srikakulam which is the nearest railway station, located at a distance of about three kilometres from Ananthagiri. The other railway station is Vikarabad which is about six kilometres from Ananthagiri. You can find numerous state taxis from these stations that will take you to the spot.
Nagunur temples and fort
Located at a distance of about 177 kilometres from Hyderabad, the historic Nagunur fort is situated in the Karimnagar region of Telangana.
The fort complex traces its history back to the Kakatiya reign during which it became a seat of stronghold and power. It houses the ruins of several temples which are mainly remnants of Kalyani Kakatiya temples. They include the Vaishnava Temple, Shiva Temple, Trikutalayam Temple and Ramalingala Gudi Temple which date back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the biggest and the most famous. It has three shrines dedicated to the deity.
These temples were erected over a large span of time, covering the Kalyani, Chalukya and Kakatiya reigns.
It is one of the hidden gems of Hyderabad and is very well connected by road. There are regular bus services that will take you to Nagunur bus stop which is about 1.7 kilometres from the fort.
If you are bored of the city life in Hyderabad and looking for some beach getaways, Suryalanka Beach is the ideal weekend trip that you need.
Pristine waters of the Bay Of Bengal, the palm-fringed beach and the beautiful sand makes it one of the ideal locations to unwind and escape the humdrums of the city life.
There are a number of lodging options here, like the Haritha Beach Resort, that makes Suryalanka an ideal retreat. Rejuvenate by the beach while gazing at stunning sunrises and sunsets.
While here, you can also visit the Kondaveedu Fort or the Undavalli Caves. You can also visit the Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary, which houses around 7000 species of birds.
Taking a train from Hyderabad to Suryalanka is the most convenient and fast option, however, you can drive down via Guntur as well.
(Main and feature image credit: Sarang Pande/ @chulbulpande_jiiii/ Unsplash)